New potting mix and fertilizer?

20 posts in this topic

Hello everyone,

I made a small research on Palmtalk about the potting mix people use and decided that I need to upgrade my growing medium to some decent level.

Most of the time, I was using a "palm substrate" mixed with sand, but it was really hard and heavy - as you can see here:

20180525_153534.thumb.jpg.da2a73f1f601b8

I have Brahea, Butia and some other subtropical palms sprouting now, so I realized they need some more mineral substrate.

I prepared this mix: LECA (expanded clay) : perlite : pine bark : palm substrate (mostly peat) = 1:1:1:0,5

20180525_092944.thumb.jpg.ef91373fbeba9620180525_153527.thumb.jpg.b1aa602910bb55

 

What do you think about this mix? Anything to improve, add?

My other concern is, how is the best way to fertilize, and when to start? The mix alone doesn't provide much nutrients, on the other hand I am afraid to burn these small seedlings with fertilizer. I have some decent one 19-6-20 + 3 Mg etc.. but it is used in it's liquid form. Can I prevent the damage by diluting the fertilizer to third or maybe a quarter of the recommended dose? 

Thanks for help!

Ondra

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Instead of perlite I would prefer Seramis® and I would not use the »palm substrate« at all. LECA is chemically neutral (like lava) and has no nutritional value, but it is very good for soil fast draining and not getting soggy. Seramis® is lightly acidic and similar to tropical lateritic soil with trace elements.

As for fertilizing: If your palms don’t grow fast then don’t fertilize; if they are growing stronger then fertilize during spring and summer often, but always much more diluted than recommended.

And don’t plant the seedlings into pots too large: the smaller the better you can react on the palms growing behavior with ±watering or ±fertilizing.

Whereas Brahea is growing also on alkaline soils, Butia grows only on carbonate-free lightly acidic silicate soils in its habitat.

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30 minutes ago, Pal Meir said:

Instead of perlite I would prefer Seramis® and I would not use the »palm substrate« at all. LECA is chemically neutral (like lava) and has no nutritional value, but it is very good for soil fast draining and not getting soggy. Seramis® is lightly acidic and similar to tropical lateritic soil with trace elements.

As for fertilizing: If your palms don’t grow fast then don’t fertilize; if they are growing stronger then fertilize during spring and summer often, but always much more diluted than recommended.

And don’t plant the seedlings into pots too large: the smaller the better you can react on the palms growing behavior with ±watering or ±fertilizing.

Whereas Brahea is growing also on alkaline soils, Butia grows only on carbonate-free lightly acidic silicate soils in its habitat.

Thank you for your reply!

Unfortunately Seramis is quite pricey for me to use as a main growing medium.

But still, I am a bit confused with the nourishment of palms growing in plain Seramis or other inorganic substance - how can the plant grow healthily when it has no nutrients in the potting mix? I know plants fix the carbon from CO2, but what about the other elements? Maybe it is just a lack of my botany knowledge, I'm just interested how the seedling survives without any fertilizer or substrate providing the necessary cofactors for the synthesis of chlorophyll for example. The nutrients contained in the seed don't last very long, and fertilizing the seedling at such young age can cause some harm to the root system If I am right. Or is it just the same principle as the hydroponics? :) 

Regards,

Ondra

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There are mineral nutrients in Seramis® which are directly accessible to the plants. And there are also nutrients in the pine bark which are accessible after rotting. But if you would use only LECA and/or sand you have to add fert as in case of hydroponics. (The latter worked excellent with palms like S romonzoffiana.)

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On a company website of Seramis - produced by Westland, they claim it to be 100% pure burnt clay. How can it have mineral nutrients ? seems impossible.

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5 minutes ago, Reynevan said:

On a company website of Seramis - produced by Westland, they claim it to be 100% pure burnt clay. How can it have mineral nutrients ? seems impossible.

Clay (here: loam) is a mineral soil full of essential nutrients for almost all plants. But different from LECA it is burnt not under so high temps.

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5 minutes ago, Pal Meir said:

Clay (here: loam) is a mineral soil full of essential nutrients for almost all plants. But different from LECA it is burnt not under so high temps.

So then the high temperature destroys  those nutrients that were initially in this clay ?

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5 minutes ago, Reynevan said:

So then the high temperature destroys  those nutrients that were initially in this clay ?

No, it does not destroy them. It changes the soft solvable clay silicates into very hard unsolvable silicates.

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16 minutes ago, Pal Meir said:

No, it does not destroy them. It changes the soft solvable clay silicates into very hard unsolvable silicates.

Yes, clay is mostly silicates with some small amounts of minerals, but it can't possibly contain all the nutrients needed in such amounts to let the plant grow healthily. Most of the ammonium would be lost in the process of the preparation of Seramis too.

On the website of the Czech seller of Seramis®  is written: "Seramis  is a material which is completely specific in its ability to absorb water. It doesn't contain any nutrients, it is just a airy and water absorbing material. The main difference between Seramis and LECA is, that it is not as hard and it doesn't resist much pressure. We add the liquid fertilizer to every watering. We recommend to add Zeolite for it's nutrient sorbing attributes." 

From this description I assume that the fertilizer needs to be added first to the mix to allow Seramis to absorb it. Now there is the question how to do it when the seedlings are susceptible to fertilizer burns?

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26 minutes ago, Grasswing said:

Yes, clay is mostly silicates with some small amounts of minerals, but it can't possibly contain all the nutrients needed in such amounts to let the plant grow healthily. Most of the ammonium would be lost in the process of the preparation of Seramis too.

On the website of the Czech seller of Seramis®  is written: "Seramis  is a material which is completely specific in its ability to absorb water. It doesn't contain any nutrients, it is just a airy and water absorbing material. The main difference between Seramis and LECA is, that it is not as hard and it doesn't resist much pressure. We add the liquid fertilizer to every watering. We recommend to add Zeolite for it's nutrient sorbing attributes." 

From this description I assume that the fertilizer needs to be added first to the mix to allow Seramis to absorb it. Now there is the question how to do it when the seedlings are susceptible to fertilizer burns?

I can only repeat what I wrote above. And the results I earned with palm seedlings were excellent so far. But It is only my personal recommendation for what I would do (and I did already actually). But you must decide on your own what you will do. Your mix in the first post is not bad, but I would not use it for those palm spp.

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Thank you for advice. :winkie:

I'll try if this mix works, the time will tell if it needs some adjusting.

What about others? What are your experiences with fertilizing seedlings in mostly inorganic mixes?

Regards

Ondrej

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I always use milorganite on potted seedlings. I've never had burn & it always keeps them nice and green. You could also try a slow release fertilizer like Osmocote.

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On 25-5-2018 21:47:46, Pal Meir said:

I can only repeat what I wrote above. And the results I earned with palm seedlings were excellent so far. But It is only my personal recommendation for what I would do (and I did already actually). But you must decide on your own what you will do. Your mix in the first post is not bad, but I would not use it for those palm spp.

My personal experience confirms Pals' writings.

The first palm seedlings that I repotted in a seramis/pinebark mix were some dying Lytocaryum insignes. They actually had rootrot up to a level where there weren't many roots left due to the peatbased (and soggy) soil I used back then. It was more like a little stump. I thought that I didn't have anything to loose and followed Pals' instructions on the mix. It took over a year before the seedlings picked up growth again, they had to build up a whole new rootsystem and that took time. Now they are healthy and good growing plants and most of the palms in my collection are growing in a seramis/pinebark mix. Before I was always struggling with unhealthy palms due to rootproblems.

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42 minutes ago, Kai said:

My personal experience confirms Pals' writings.

The first palm seedlings that I repotted in a seramis/pinebark mix were some dying Lytocaryum insignes. They actually had rootrot up to a level where there weren't many roots left due to the peatbased (and soggy) soil I used back then. It was more like a little stump. I thought that I didn't have anything to loose and followed Pals' instructions on the mix. It took over a year before the seedlings picked up growth again, they had to build up a whole new rootsystem and that took time. Now they are healthy and good growing plants and most of the palms in my collection are growing in a seramis/pinebark mix. Before I was always struggling with unhealthy palms due to rootproblems.

I'm definitely going to try Seramis, the porosity seems better than in case of LECA, it is still quite pricey for transplanting bigger plants though.

How often do you need to water your Lytocaryums if they are in this mix? Do you adjust the pine bark/seramis ratio for different palm species? :) 

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1 hour ago, Grasswing said:

I'm definitely going to try Seramis, the porosity seems better than in case of LECA, it is still quite pricey for transplanting bigger plants though.

How often do you need to water your Lytocaryums if they are in this mix? Do you adjust the pine bark/seramis ratio for different palm species? :) 

Seramis is expensive stuff, that much is true. But preventing hassle from cloggy soil suffering plants is more than worth it.

I water my palms about 3 times a week.

I keep the pine bark seramis ratio at about 50 / 50 but Pal has some more detailed ratio's depending on what he knows about the soils and circumstances from the species natural surroundings.

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Use controlled-release fertilizer. Won't burn. I suggest Nutricote as it is released by moisture, not by temperature.

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23 minutes ago, Missi said:

Use controlled-release fertilizer. Won't burn. I suggest Nutricote as it is released by moisture, not by temperature.

I bought Osmocote, judging from the name it is probably released by moisture too.

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7 minutes ago, Grasswing said:

I bought Osmocote, judging from the name it is probably released by moisture too.

That's super suitable for indoor use. I'm adding it to my potting mix, really handy :)

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On 6/1/2018, 9:58:03, Grasswing said:

I bought Osmocote, judging from the name it is probably released by moisture too.

For Osmocote, the release of nutrients is contingent on growing media temperature rather than media moisture.

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1 hour ago, Missi said:

For Osmocote, the release of nutrients is contingent on growing media temperature rather than media moisture.

Thank you for pointing this out. I couldnt find Nutricote in any shop around, I am afraid that it is not available in our country at all. So I guess Osmocote is better than nothing :)

 

 

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